Ignacy Mościcki

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Ignacy Mościcki
3rd President of Poland
In office
4 June 1926 – 30 September 1939
Prime MinisterKazimierz Bartel
Józef Piłsudski
Kazimierz Bartel
Kazimierz Świtalski
Kazimierz Bartel
Walery Sławek
Józef Piłsudski
Walery Sławek
Aleksander Prystor
Janusz Jędrzejewicz
Leon Kozłowski
Walery Sławek
Marian Zyndram-Kościałkowski
Felicjan Sławoj Składkowski
Preceded byStanisław Wojciechowski
Succeeded byWładysław Raczkiewicz
Personal details
Born(1867-12-01)1 December 1867
Mierzanowo, Congress Poland, Russian Empire
Died2 October 1946(1946-10-02) (aged 78)
Versoix, Switzerland[1]
Resting placeSt. John's Archcathedral, Warsaw
Political partyProletariat (until 1892)
Spouse(s)Michalina Czyżewska
Maria Dobrzańska
(m. 1933)
  • Chemist
  • politician

Ignacy Mościcki (Polish pronunciation: [iɡˈnatsɨ mɔɕˈtɕitskʲi]; 1 December 1867 – 2 October 1946) was a Polish chemist and politician who was the country's president from 1926 to 1939. He was the longest serving president in Polish history.[2] Mościcki was the President of Poland when Germany invaded the country on 1 September 1939 and started World War II.

Early life and career[edit]

Mościcki was born on 1 December 1867 in Mierzanowo, a small village near Ciechanów, Congress Poland. After completing school in Warsaw, he studied chemistry at the Riga Polytechnicum, where he joined the Polish underground leftist organization, Proletariat.[3]

Upon graduating, he returned to Warsaw but was threatened by the Tsarist secret police with life imprisonment in Siberia and was forced to emigrate in 1892 to London. In 1896, he was offered an assistantship at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. There, he patented a method for cheap industrial production of nitric acid.

In 1912, Mościcki moved to Lviv (Polish: Lwów), in the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, in Austria-Hungary, where he accepted a chair in physical chemistry and technical electrochemistry at the Lviv Polytechnic.[4] In 1925, he was elected rector of the Lwów Polytechnic (as it was then called), but soon moved to Warsaw to continue his research at the Warsaw Polytechnic. In 1926, he became an Honorary Member of the Polish Chemical Society.[5]


Mościcki bestows the bulawa (the Marshal of Poland's baton) on Edward Rydz-Śmigły

After Józef Piłsudski's May 1926 coup d'état on 1 June 1926, Mościcki, once an associate of Piłsudski in the Polish Socialist Party, was elected President of Poland by the National Assembly on the recommendation of Piłsudski, who had refused the post for himself.[6]

As president, Mościcki was subservient to Piłsudski and never openly showed dissent from any aspect of the Marshal's leadership. After Piłsudski's death in 1935, his followers divided into three main factions: those supporting Mościcki as Piłsudski's successor, those supporting General Edward Rydz-Śmigły and those supporting Prime Minister Walery Sławek.

With a view to eliminating Sławek from the game, Mościcki concluded a power-sharing agreement with Rydz-Śmigły, which had caused Sławek to be marginalised as a serious political player by the end of the year. As a result of the agreement, Rydz-Śmigły would become the de facto leader of Poland until the outbreak of the war, and Mościcki remained influential by continuing in office as president.

Mościcki was the leading moderate figure in the regime, which was referred to as the "colonels' government" because of the major presence of military officers in the Polish government. Mościcki opposed many of the nationalist excesses of the more right-wing Rydz-Śmigły, but their pact remained more or less intact.

Mościcki remained president until September 1939, when he was interned in Romania[7] after the German invasion of Poland and was forced by France to resign his office. He transferred the office to General Bolesław Wieniawa-Długoszowski, who held it for only one day before General Władysław Sikorski and the French government ousted him in favour of Władysław Raczkiewicz.

First family of Poland (1930)

Later life[edit]

Mościcki's grave in the basement of the St. John's Archcathedral, Warsaw

Mościcki was planning to leave for Switzerland after leaving office as president. From 1908 to 1920, he was a citizen of Switzerland; he was also an honorary citizen of Fribourg. The Romanian authorities gave their provisional consent to his departure, but Germany opposed it. Mościcki was offered to United States President Franklin Roosevelt, who was determined to have Mościcki go to Switzerland. The intervention of the US government forced the Romanian authorities to agree. General Sikorski also ordered the Polish embassy in Bucharest to provide all assistance to Mościcki. The president stayed in Romania until December 1939.[8]

Mościcki came to Switzerland through Milan, where he met with Wieniawa-Długoszowski. Initially, he lived in Fribourg, where he was allowed to continue his scientific work. During this period, among others, he wrote down his memories, which were published by the New York City magazine Independence. Mościcki donated money to soldiers of the Polish Army in France, Warsaw residents in prisoner-of-war camps, concentration camps and labour camps. For five months, he taught at the University of Fribourg. Later, he was forced to take up paid work. In 1940, he moved to Geneva, where he worked in the Hydro-Nitro Chemical Laboratory.

Mościcki's health deteriorated rapidly after 1943. He died on 2 October 1946, in Versoix, near Geneva.


In 1984, his descendants requested for the remains of Mościcki and his wife to be moved from Switzerland to Poland. The relevant Polish authorities agreed that a funeral was to be held in Warsaw and be completely private, without any state ceremonies. However, the authorities of the Canton of Geneva in Switzerland withdrew their agreement for political reasons after protests related to Solidarity from emigrants. In 1993, Mościcki's remains were transported, on behalf of incumbent President Lech Wałęsa, to Poland and deposited in the crypt of St. John's Archcathedral, Warsaw. Mościcki's symbolic grave is located in the Avenue of Merit at the Powązki Cemetery in Warsaw, where his second wife is buried next to him.[9]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Last Prewar President Buried in Poland". Los Angeles Times. 14 September 1993.
  2. ^ August Zaleski was president of the Polish Government in Exile for 25 years, from 1947 to his death.
  3. ^ "Ignacy Mościcki - prezydent Piłsudskiego". Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  4. ^ Norman Davies, God's Playground, vol. II, Oxford University Press, 1986, ISBN 0-19-821944-X, p. 422.
  5. ^ "President of honour and honorary members of PTChem". Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  6. ^ "Ignacy Mościcki (1867-1946)". Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  7. ^ Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, The Pattern of Soviet Domination, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1948, p. 6.
  8. ^ "Ignacy Mościcki - prezydent Piłsudskiego". Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  9. ^ "Ignacy Mościcki - prezydent Piłsudskiego". Retrieved 23 February 2020.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by President of Poland
Succeeded byas President of the Polish Republic in Exile
Title next held by
Bolesław Bierut